Not a Garden Gnome

Bruce Kimme, in his Great War uniform, standing in front of the massive prop bolted to the Gnome.

Fans of round engines are a unique breed. They tend to build new old planes. One problem they have is finding a suitable round engine. Moreso if they are building a replica from the Great War a.k.a. WW I and desire a true radial engine, not just a round engine.

Well, KipAero has an engine for them!

Bruce Kimme of Dallas, Texas built a Nieuport 11 and a Half Strutter from KipAero plans and for thrust, put a rotary engine up front, yes, a real honest to goodness cylinder attached to the massive prop, castor oil-spitting, blip switch speed-controlled rotary engine. The kind where the crankshaft is attached to the firewall and the engine spins around the crank, not the other way around as in more modern radial engines.

Even the case tag is period correct, sort-of-kind-of.

Produced in New Zealand and imported to the USA by KipAero, the new production nine-cylinder rotary makes 125 hp. KipAero attributes the increase in HP over the original Gnome as coming from better machining, aluminum pistons (the originals were cast iron), better valves, higher octane fuel (regular pump gas vs. 60+ octane from the Great War), and modern spark plugs.


  • Price: $62,000 W/O the prop
  • Weight: 330 Lbs.
  • HP: 125 at 1125 RPM (578 Ft-Lbs. Torque)
  • Bore & Stroke: 110 mm x 150 mm
  • Size: 12.830 Liters
  • Fuel: Automotive, Regular Unleaded with or without ethanol.
  • TBO: Unknown (80 hours during the Great War, due to modern metals and machining, the reproduction engines are well past that number. The TBO should not frighten a reproduction plane pilot because the engines are very simple and easy to rebuild.)
  • Ignition: Electronic
  • Carburetor: Yes, kind of, sort-of, not really

Consumption per hour

  • Fuel: 15 Gallons
  • Castor Oil: 2-1/2 Gallons (Total Loss System)
Yes, the plug wires are fishing leaders.

Speed control is accomplished via a “Blip” button, by leaning the engine engine to just above stoppage, or running the electronic ignition at “half speed.”

A smaller seven-cylinder is in the works, and should be available in the near future.

Visit for more details.

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Bill Repucci
Bill Repucci was handed his Private Pilot’s certificate back in the days when the written test was taken with a Number 2 pencil. At the time, Bill was told that he now had a “License to Learn.” And learn he did, mostly that there was humor buried in the quirky ways of those of us who call ourselves aviators.


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